It is illegal in every jurisdiction in the United States to drive with an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For most adult drivers, the legal limit for their BAC is 0.08%. Anyone over that limit is at risk of drunk driving charges.
Those with high alcohol levels also frequently cause crashes. Many fatal collisions in the Washington D.C. area occur because someone has gotten behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Who is liable for a drunk driving crash that causes injury to others or even someone’s death?
Every state has slightly different rules regarding drunk driving and liability. In general, people can always assume that the impaired motorist is liable for the crash. Anyone who chooses to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink has responsibility for the impact of their decisions.
The other people involved in the crash could file an insurance claim against the drunk driver’s liability insurance policy. When there isn’t enough insurance, they may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, a drunk driver does not necessarily have the resources required to fully compensate the other people involved in a collision. Occasionally, there will be outside parties with some degree of liability. The ability to file a lawsuit against a business after a drunk driving wreck will depend on the location.
If the crash occurs in Maryland, a business lawsuit is likely not an option. Maryland does not have a dram shop statute that passes liability onto businesses that serve someone who is already visibly drunk. Similarly, Virginia lacks a dram shop law. Those hurt in suburbs around Washington D.C. will have few options other than taking legal action against the drunk driver.
However, Washington D.C. has a local ordinance that can apply to drunk driving crashes within the actual DC metropolitan area. The law passes liability onto businesses that serve minors, those already intoxicated and those that staff members know have an alcohol addiction.
Exploring every option can help people more fully recover the losses incurred in a drunk driving crash caused by another’s recklessness. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.
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